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INSIGHTS SITE LINES


Serving student wellbeing needs


Students in the 21st century face a wide range of health and wellbeing challenges as well as technological demands. James Allison of architects Bennetts Associates discusses an example of thoughtful improvement of student wellbeing facilities for Cambridge University


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n the digital age, where a wealth of information can be accessed at the click of a button, established higher education institutions are facing a challenge to adapt and to redefine their


role, and the value they offer students. Change in universities is being driven by rapid technological advancements and by the expectations of modern graduates who require skills to ensure they are prepared for the world of work in the 21st Century. As pressure on students and institutions increases, investment in human-centred spaces is key to cater for these changing behaviours and to promote social connection, diversity and wellbeing among university communities. Earlier this year, Bennetts Associates delivered the new Student Services Centre for the University of Cambridge. The project comprises refurbishment of the Grade II listed Arts School with construction of a new interlinked building. It is situated in the historic heart of Cambridge on the New Museums Site, which holds many of the university’s science buildings, and has been transformed following the demolition of redundant buildings. The project has also created a series of courtyards and pedestrian routes through a previously inaccessible and neglected part of the city centre. These new spaces offer a natural setting in which students and staff can spend time away from their work. The Student Services Centre aims to significantly improve student welfare by co-locating seven student support services from across the city into a single, easily accessible address. The project provides highly flexible teaching spaces – a priority for the world-class institution – and has been designed to meet the changing needs of the students. It offers numerous benefits for the relocated departments in terms of operational efficiency by sharing facilities and increased productivity, through the provision of spaces to encourage collaborative ways of working. Adapting to new working practices and student requirements is important when considering how universities distinguish their brand and offer in an increasingly competitive market. Many institutions are evolving by offering shorter courses to provide top up skills or the opportunity to re-train. Flexible learning


ADF SEPTEMBER 2019


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STUDENT SERVICES CENTRE The new facility – a refurbished listed arts school plus an interlinked addition – aims to significantly improve student welfare in Cambridge


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